You would think that with the number of times I moved house, I’d know better. But here are some lessons I learned when relocating across the US during a housing crisis. If you want to save money and your sanity, here is the Don’t List.
Whether you have a new home lined up or you are going to wing it when you reach your location, don’t send your books media mail to yourself. And definitely don’t sent the boxes to a friend, family member, or general delivery at the local post office.
Don’t send media mail to yourself.
I followed a YouTuber’s advice about sending boxes media mail to general delivery. Even if you have a home lined up, you still need to go to the post office or wherever you sent the boxes to pick them up. The boxes are heavy. No one wants someone’s boxes cluttering their homes. And if you don’t have a new home lined up, you’re going to have to pay for storage. Or you might have to cart those boxes between temporary rental while you search for a permanent home.
If you have a van you can store the boxes in your van, but make sure you keep your van locked.
Save yourself the hassle and ship all your belongings (except what you immediately need) in a shipping cube.
Don’t send your belongings until you have a home secured.
In my case, I had to move out of a sublet and I wouldn’t have had a way to send my belongings to myself later. No one was going to pack up and cart my belongings to a relocation cube facility. I shipped my belongings through U-Pack. I have high regards for the folks at U-Pack because they are honest and they do a good job.
But, I had to pay $150 storage for the shipping cube for six months while I kept searching for a non-existent permanent home. That adds up, but surprisingly was a $100 cheaper than going with Cube Smart (this company charged $253 for a 5 x 10 storage unit).
Don’t use a large duffle bag (not even the ones on wheels)
They are heavy, floppy, and anyone can unzip it and steal your belongings, if they wanted to. They roll over on the side when you pull on the handle, especially if you’re in a rush to catch a train or taxi. The nylon frays and the zippers can break or get stuck.
If you’re traveling long distance, buy yourself a hard plastic or lightweight metal suitcase with wheels. If it has a lock on it, even better.
This is the last time I’m traveling or relocating with duffel bags. It would have costs the same to have bought a hard plastic suitcase.
Don’t move to a place just because it Has a Good Reputation
I mention this for several reasons. First, if it the place, city, or state is receiving media attention and YouTube hosts are promoting travel to those places, there’s a good chance people are already flocking there in droves. This was the case with Vermont.
Dig past the allure of the place. Research economics (the cost of living), taxes, weather, and especially available housing to rent or buy. If the housing market is below, 3.0 percent, that’s a bad sign. That means you’ll be entering an epic battle to secure a rental. When there is more demand than supply, the rental and home purchasing prices rise quickly. Or you might find that a year later, your rent increased several hundred dollars.
If you’re living off a trust fund or you earn over a hundred grand a year, then all power to you. If you’re not wealthy, look elsewhere to pursue your dreams.
While I ran into problems in Vermont, this could happen in any US state with a tight housing market and a higher desirability factor. Since the most popular states are Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida, do your research. You might find a smaller community off the beaten path where you can still find an affordable home in those states.
But before you pack that shipping container and give up stable housing, get your list of prospects together. And instead of getting your tips from YouTube videos, like I did, speak to experts and professional movers.
Have thousands of dollars in your savings. Go through a real estate agent or management company (unless you have friends or family in the area where you are relocating). And line up employment. Otherwise, you could end up like millions of Americans living in shelters, in a car, or in a tent.
In fact, if you currently have stable housing and stable employment, wait until the economy improves before relocating to a new state. I didn’t have stable housing or employment which is why I sought opportunities elsewhere. And six months later, I’m relocating to another state where the rentals are still available and less expensive than in the New England and the Western States.
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